Navigating Back to School Scenarios for Working Parents - Leadership Development, Culture Consulting, and Executive Coaching in Vancouver
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Navigating Back to School Scenarios for Working Parents

Navigating Back to School Scenarios for Working Parents

Back to school in 2020 has me filled with fear.

…And my fear’s not helping anybody in my household right now. 

With a second COVID-19 wave looming and a longing to return to a more regular work schedule, I’m preparing to have my teenage daughter head back to high school with two immune-compromised Elders potentially moving in with me and requiring my care.

If you’re a parent feeling uncertain right now, you’re not alone.

Personal values can help us navigate risk, at home and at work.

Parents know the importance of sending their kids back to school: socialization and economic recovery. Let’s face it—we need child care. And, our teams need to return to work. It’s risky. But risk tolerance is EXACTLY the muscle leaders need to build.

Whether we’re leading companies or families, making tough decisions about the safety of the people around us requires us to be connected to our own personal values, first and foremost. You can’t lead others without leading yourself first.

This responsibility for others—but also ourselves—can feel like two parts of yourself smacking up against each other. As parents—especially women—we feel jostled around and uncertain of everything. (i.e. How will our kids social distance and keep masks on? )

How leaders/parents might plan amidst uncertainty

Let go of the master plan you had for 2020. We’re going from week to week. 

Aside from doing executive coaching, here are more tips leaders can use to prepare for uncertain times.

  • Delegate home responsibilities. Try to alleviate burdening one person (typically one parent) with chores or childcare. Include your kids in the plan as much as possible.
  • Model behaviour and express feelings. Parents set the tone at home the same way executives and managers do at work. Normalize feelings of anxiety your children or team members may be having by telling a story about how you navigated a difficult situation. Remind them that we’re all going through something similar.
  • Manage your stress. Prioritize your and your family’s mental health. Remote therapy, breathwork, meditation, or just hugs make a huge difference. Don’t dedicate more than 30 minutes a day to worrying. Reframe negative thoughts. For example, change “This entire back-to-school plan is terrible” to “This isn’t an easy plan to accept, but I’m doing my best to deal with this challenge even though I disagree with it.” And get enough sleep!
  • Build a strong support community. If family members or friends have offered to help, take it. Stay connected to other parents going through the same experiences, and offer what you can give. Learning pods may also help multiple families.
  • Keep communication open at work. Ask for flexibility if you’re caring for your child during the work day, and discuss when you’ll get your work done.

Leadership means walking my talk.

Leadership development involves looking at the bigger picture. We don’t have control over everything, but we can accept and work through what we CAN control.

By making decisions based on my values (resilience, adaptability and flexibility), I trust I’ll figure things out by listening to my gut, and over communicating with who I interact with.

If you need help managing your team while making important decisions at home, contact us for a discovery session.

Maybe YOU can teach ME a parenting hack or two!


Patti Jo Wiese
Patti Jo Wiese

PJ is a co-partner of Six and a Half Consulting. She’s all about connecting unlikely parties for impact. In the summer she gardens and sails. The rest of the year she schemes for good. Heck, she does that in the summer too!

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